Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common autoimmune disorders, in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. MS causes inflammation within the central nervous system (CNS). Gradually, damage to nerve fibers and myelin (a fatty substance that coats and insulates nerve fibers within the CNS) disrupts normal CNS functions. People with MS may experience a range of neurological symptoms, including fatigue, weakness, and vision problems. MS can be difficult to diagnose, because symptoms vary so widely. MS sufferers generally experience relapses and remissions, making it unpredictable. The exact cause of MS is not fully understood, and there is no known cure; however, there are a number of ways to manage symptoms and alleviate discomfort. Many MS patients seek out alternative treatments, including acupuncture and nutrition, because the standard pharmaceutical treatments are often inadequate to control symptoms and have undesirable side effects. Although more comprehensive research is needed to study the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating MS patients, many common MS symptoms may be alleviated through a series of acupuncture sessions.
The Western Approach to Treating Multiple Sclerosis
Practitioners of Western medicine often use medications to modify the course of the disease, manage symptoms, and address relapses. While these drugs can relieve painful MS symptoms, some patients with several symptoms may find themselves with numerous prescriptions for various medications—many of which carry unwanted side effects themselves. For instance, an MS patient with bladder issues, fatigue, and pain may be prescribed three separate drugs for these distinct symptoms. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for MS patients to experience additional symptoms due to medication side effects. In recent years, Western medicine has started to integrate more complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) into their recommendations to provide MS patients with a greater variety of treatment options.
Acupuncture for Managing Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Currently, clinical research on acupuncture and multiple sclerosis is lacking. One 2014 review of twelve peer-reviewed articles on this subject found that a number of MS patients reported a “transient improvement in well-being” and other improvements to their quality of life. This review detailed the significant limitations of each study, as the sample sizes were small and the outcomes were measured differently and inconsistently. However, as acupuncture has long been used to address symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, and depression, it’s likely that MS patients may find relief from such symptoms through a series of acupuncture treatment sessions.
There is evidence that acupuncture has neuro-protective effects in other degenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s and dementia. Acupuncture may inhibit the accumulation of toxic proteins, modulate glucose metabolism and depress neuronal apoptosis. It seems unsurprising that acupuncture could help with MS, too.
Restoring Energy Through Acupuncture Treatment Sessions
While comprehensive, evidence-based clinical trials are lacking, an ample amount of anecdotal evidence from case studies exists that demonstrates the healing potential of acupuncture treatment for MS patients. According to one analysis, a clinical practitioner observed that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine provided effective treatment of MS symptoms. In a study of 20 patients, most reported that acupuncture treatment and Chinese herbal medicine improved their symptoms. Several patients reported feeling more energized after these sessions, and those who experienced digestive or bladder issues reported that acupuncture eased these problems. As acupuncture approaches the body from a holistic perspective, encouraging bodily processes to work more effectively, MS patients may find comfort and relief through such treatment sessions.
To learn more about how Five Element acupuncture can help you find relief from MS symptoms, call Inner Works Acupuncture in northwest Portland at (503) 227-2127 today to schedule an appointment.